Discrimination Law

Watch Out for Age-based Commentary

Posted on February 20, 2015

Is calling an employee “old man” discriminatory? It could be--just yesterday, the EEOC announced that Wal-Mart has agreed to pay $150,000 and provide other relief to a resolve an age and disability lawsuit filed by the EEOC on behalf of an employee. The EEOC charged that Wal-Mart discriminated against the employee by subjecting him to harassment, discriminatory treatment, and discharge because of his age and refused to provide a reasonable accommodation for his disability.…

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New Rule Prohibits Government Contractors from Discriminating Against Employees Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Posted on December 5, 2014

On Wednesday, the Department of Labor announced a new rule aimed at protecting those working for government contractors from discrimination based upon their sexual orientation or gender identity. The new rule implements Executive Order 13672, which was signed by President Obama on July 21, 2014.…

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Even Extremely Flexible Schedule Accommodation Request Not Unreasonable as a Matter of Law

Posted on October 17, 2014

The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit recently reversed the decision of the district court in the case of Solomon v. Vilsack, No. 12-5123 (D.C. Cir. August 15, 2014), a case involving an employee’s request to have significant flexibility in the her working hours as a reasonable accommodation for her disability. The district court had granted summary judgment to the employer, the Department of Agriculture, on the grounds that a “maxiflex work schedule” such as that sought by the plaintiff was an unreasonable accommodation request as a matter of law. The Court of Appeals disagreed, stating that “[n]othing in the Rehabilitation Act establishes, as a matter of law, that a maxiflex work schedule is unreasonable” and leaving for remand the factual question of whether this request would have been reasonable on this case.…

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Ninth Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment on Issue of Whether Policy Prohibiting Male Deputies from Supervising Female Inmates is Discrimination

Posted on August 8, 2014

In a recent decision, the Ninth Circuit found that there were material issues of fact in dispute precluding summary judgment in favor of a county where male deputies claimed a policy prohibiting male deputies from supervising female inmates in the housing units of the jails operated by the County was unlawful sex discrimination in violation of Title VII. Anderson v. City & Cnty of San Francisco, No. 11-16746 (9th Cir. July 2, 2014).…

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Summary Judgment Granted to Plaintiff Claiming FBI’s Gender-Based Push-up Requirements in Violation of Title VII

Posted on August 1, 2014

Is it discrimination for the FBI to require its male trainees to perform 30 push-ups while only requiring 14 push-ups from its female trainees in a physical fitness test? In June, a federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that it was. Bauer v. Holder, Case No. 1:13-cv-93 (E.D.Va. June 10, 2014). A male FBI trainee failed to perform the required 30 push-ups and argued that this requirement discriminated against him on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII in light of the fact that female trainees are only required to perform 14 push-ups. The Attorney General argued that this does not constitute impermissible discrimination because the different standards are based on innate physiological differences between males and females and these standards impose no greater burden on men than on women.…

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New Guidance from EEOC on Pregnancy Discrimination

Posted on July 18, 2014

Earlier this week, the EEOC issued a Notice titled Enforcement Guidance: Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues. The EEOC provides an overview of statutory protections, discussing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”), the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and other requirements affecting pregnant workers, including the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), Executive Order 13152 Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Status as Parent, Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which requires that employers provide reasonable break time for nursing mothers, and state laws that relate to pregnant workers. The EEOC provides a number of helpful examples of what would and would not constitute unlawful discrimination and is a useful tool for employers to review. This guidance can be found at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/pregnancy_guidance.cfm.…

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Pregnancy Discrimination Case Settled for $25,000

Posted on June 27, 2014

According to an EEOC press release earlier this week, a property management company in Maryland has agreed to pay $25,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit where the allegations were that the pregnant employee was terminated after she requested to discontinue working with certain cleaning products, but was unable to provide certain documentation from her doctor clearing her to work with cleaning chemicals. The EEOC filed suit on behalf of the employee in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland in the case of EEOC v. Greystar Management Services, L.P., No. 1:11-cv-02789.…

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Employer May Be Liable Where Spurned Co-Worker Takes Action to Get Employee Fired

Posted on June 13, 2014

The Supreme Court has previously ruled on the issue of employer liability premised on a finding of negligence in cases involving hostile workplace. But, yet to be addressed by the Supreme Court is whether an employer can face liability when a co-worker (instead of a supervisor) commits a discriminatory act that influences an ultimate employment decision. The First Circuit recently answered this question in the affirmative, finding that an employer can be liable if it fires an employee based upon complaints that it knew or reasonably should have known were the product of discriminatory animus. Velazquez-Perez v. Developers Diversified Realty Corp., et al., No. 12-2226 (1st Cir. May 23, 2014).…

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Classifying Former Employee as a New Hire Can Provide Basis for Retaliation Claim

Posted on June 6, 2014

Recently, Judge Payne of the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that a plaintiff’s claim that he was retaliated against when he was rehired by his employer after engaging in protected activity, but reassigned to a new site forty-seven miles away from his original sites without the supervisory responsibilities he previously held and was classified as a new hire. Chamblee v. Old Dominion Security Company, et al., No. 3:13cv820 (April 11, 2014).…

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Eleventh Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment Ruling in Discrimination Case—Reminding District Court that in Status-based Discrimination Claims, But-for Causation Not Required

Posted on May 30, 2014

This week, the Eleventh Circuit issued a ruling in Barthelus v. G4S Government Solutions, Inc., No. 13-14121 (May 27, 2014), reversing the district court’s award of summary judgment to an employer and finding that there was a material issue of fact regarding whether the employers’ grounds for termination were merely pretext. In so ruling, the Eleventh Circuit pointed out that the claims of the plaintiff were in the “status-based category of discrimination,” and thus the employee was not required to show that the causal link between the injury and wrong was so close that the injury would not have occurred but for the act. Instead, the plaintiff must only show that the motive to discriminate was one of the motives, even if accompanied by other, lawful motives. Barthelus, p. 16.…

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